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Life of a Writer: August 2023



Avitus B. Carle (F ’16) will present on a panel called “Storytelling through Hermit Crab Flash: Exploring Borrowed Forms” at the AWP 2024 national conference in Kansas City.

Rick Childers (F ’22) wrote and voice acted in the new podcast Reformation Abroad, based on his short story of the same title. The show has climbed into Apple’s Fiction Charts twice this summer, peaking at #51. His short story “IROC-Z” was also published in this summer’s issue of Still: the Journal.

Kelly Creagh (W4CYA ’08) looks forward to the release of her fifth YA novel, a modern paranormal romance reimagining of Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. Titled Strange Unearthly Things, her latest book will be available in hardback, eBook, and audiobook formats on August 22 and releases alongside the paperback of Phantom Heart, a paranormal romance YA retelling of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera (also published by Viking). Creagh’s Nevermore trilogy (Atheneum) has also recently been re-released in Poland (Jaguar).

Elizabeth Felicetti (CNF ’20) launched her debut book, Unexpected Abundance: The Fruitful Lives of Women Without Children (Eerdmans), August 22 at 6 p.m. at The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia. Her second book, Irreverent Prayers: On Talking to God When You’re Seriously Sick, co-authored with fellow Episcopal priest Samantha Vincent-Alexander, is forthcoming from Eerdmans in 2024.

Karen George (F ’09) had poems published in Naugatuck River Review and Still: The Journal. She was the featured reader at June Poetry on Brick Street in Zionsville, Indiana, where she also did a podcast interview discussing her third full-length poetry collection, Where Wind Tastes Like Pears. As the winner of the 2022 Slippery Elm Poetry Contest, George also recently judged the 2023 Slippery Elm Poetry Contest.

L. Renee James-Griffin (F, P ’13) co-owns a business that helps writers, and she maintains a writing blog at She is a language arts teacher in Milton, Georgia, and an adjunct professor at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Laura Johnsrude’s (PrWr ’21) essay “Her Thin Summer Top” is published in Issue 10 of The Examined Life, the literary journal of the Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa. Her essay “Smoking Guns” is forthcoming in River Teeth, and her piece “To Eat a Fig” is forthcoming in Swing, the literary magazine affiliated with Nashville’s The Porch.

Quincy Gray McMichael (CNF, P ’22) was eager to attend the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop in July—and thrilled to encounter a couple of fellow Naslund-Mann alums upon her arrival in Hindman, Kentucky. The first installment of Quincy’s conversation with Kentucky Poet Laureate and Naslund-Mann faculty member Silas House is now online at Woodshed. They discuss grief, humanity, and—of course—Silas’s fascinating novel Lark Ascending. Keep an eye on Woodshed for a second take on their conversation in the coming weeks. Subscribers to the print magazine Greenbrier Valley Quarterly can read “Work Till the Whippoorwill Sings,” Quincy’s recent feature about accomplished West Virginia potters Jeff and Donna Diehl, of Lockbridge Pottery.

Andrew Najberg’s (P ’10) YA dark fantasy novel The Neverborn Thief is forthcoming from Olive-Ridley Press January 2024. His novel Gollitok is forthcoming through Wicked House Publishing in November 2023. Another novel, The Mobius Door, is now under audio production contract with Tantor Publishing. Recent or forthcoming short fiction publications include work in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine; Solar Press Books 2023 anthology; Make Your Presence Known anthology by Off Limits Press; Manawaker Flash Fiction Podcast; Bookends Review; Gods and Globes III anthology; Fusion Fragment #18; Translunar Travelers Lounge; Dark Dead Things, Issue #1; Creepy Podcast; and The Gateway Review. His recent and forthcoming poetry appears in The Heartlands Review, Illumen, Last Stanza, Nashville Review, Canary Literary Magazine, and Ghost City Review. Andrew has recently been interviewed on podcasts including The Night Club Horror, Writing Fright, The Dark Mind Podcast, and The Horrorific Podcast (UK).

Elizabeth Slade (F, CNF ’06) is launching her historical fiction novel, Momentum: Montessori, a Life in Motion, on August 31 in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Dana VanderLugt’s (CNF, W4CYA ’21) debut middle-grade novel, Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse, will be released on September 12 by Zonderkidz. The novel, which began as Vanderlugt’s thesis project at Spalding, is inspired by the stories of German POWs who came to work on her grandfather’s orchard in the 1940s. You can read more at her website,

Katie Williams (CNF ’22) has earned her first writer credit on IMPD Pro! Billi The Kid will start filming at the end of the summer of 2023, and Honey Creek Studios will produce the film.


Laura Candler (P) wrote a review of poet Camille Dungy’s book Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden. It was published on Civil Eats Our Summer 2023 Food and Farming Book Guide. She also published a poem called “Sonnet for Margot with Three Vulvas, Two Penises, and a Merry-Go-Round” in Issue 15 of Variant Literature. Find her on Instagram at @lauracandler.


Kathleen Driskell, chair, read at Voice & Vision reading series at 21C Hotel on August 16 in Louisville with Erin Keane, Willie Edward Taylor Carver, Jr., and Sarah Anne Strickley. She continues her work on the editorial board of the University of Kentucky Press. During the Business of Writing Seminars at Spalding on September 9, she presents the session "The Publishing Poet.” In October, she visits the Kentucky Book Festival with her new book The Vine Temple. Her poem “Collapse” is forthcoming soon in Water Stone Review.

Lynnell Edwards (P), book reviews editor for Good River Review, is pleased to share the cover for her new collection of poetry The Bearable Slant of Light (2024, Red Hen Press) and a new website:

Silas House (F, CNF, W4C) launched the paperback of Lark Ascending on August 22 with a beautiful new cover and supplemental materials. In addition, House wrote the treatment for and served as the creative director for the Tyler Childers video “In Your Love,” which was viewed a million times in only one day when it was released in late July, and in two weeks has amassed more than four million views! The video has made history as being the first country music video released by a major label to ever portray a gay love story and to feature a gay kiss. House shares story idea credit with Jason Kyle Howard, also a Naslund-Mann faculty member. Over the past month, House has been interviewed by NPR, USA Today, and Rolling Stone. House recently headlined the Lewisburg Literary Festival and gave the keynote speech at the Appalachian Education Conference at the University of Virginia. In June, House also sold a picture book about a loveable beagle to Candlewick Books, which will be published in 2024.

Angela Jackson-Brown (F) was a speaker at the 17th Annual Kentucky Women’s Book Festival on February 4. On March 25, she was on the fiction panel at the SOKY Book Fest. Angela attended the MELUS Conference in Indianapolis, where she did a reading and presented a paper called “An Intersectional and Autoethnographic Approach to Exploring What It Means to Be a Transplanted Southerner Living in the Midwest.” On May 16, Angela was awarded the 2023 Black Authors Matter TV Award (Historical Fiction) courtesy of the National Black Book Festival. Angela also delivered the keynote address at the 2023 Books in Progress Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, on June 2. She will be on a panel called “Of a Certain Age: Women Writers Near 60 and Beyond” at the 2024 AWP conference in Kansas City.

Erin Keane (CNF, P) logged her first Executive Producer film credit in August for “We Used to Win Here,” a Salon short documentary about the decline of recreational youth sports programs in America and the rise of elite, corporate-sponsored teams through the lens of basketball in Baltimore. Additionally, Erin has joined the board of directors at Sarabande Books, the independent literary publisher headquartered in Louisville whose books and literary citizenship she has long admired. She read from her memoir Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me at the August edition of Voice & Vision, the reading series sponsored by Naslund-Mann, The Louisville Review, and 21C Museum Hotel. Radio listeners may have heard her read poems recently on Bellarmine Radio (“A Chemistry Exam”) or WXOX’s Post Poet Pop (“Directions to Colonel Sanders’ Grave.”) In more dubious achievements, she was included in Buzzfeed’s “99 Hilarious Tweets by Women that Survived Elon Musk’s First Full Year at Twitter,” and of course it was for a copyediting joke.

Lee Martin (F, CNF) just returned from teaching a novel workshop at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference. He also co-presented (with Sue William Silverman) a craft talk, “Herding Cats, Or How to Craft Full-length Short Story and Essay Collections.”

Karen Salyer McElmurray’s (CNF, F) Long Ride Home is forthcoming in Fall 2024 from University Press of Kentucky. The book is collection of lyric essays about travel, both geographic and spiritual, from the marketplaces of India to the depths of the Grand Canyon to the mountains of eastern Kentucky.

Lesléa Newman (W4CYA) had a poem dedicated to children’s book writer Patricia MacLachlan published on the website Writing in a Woman’s Voice.

Kira Obolensky’s (PW) new musical, The Measures, written with composer David Darrow, is in development through Trademark Theater, with a two-week long workshop and public presentation at the end of August. A new short story, “Bitter Orange,” recently published in Hive Literary. Obolensky is a new member of The Tent, a consortium of playwrights founded by former Playwrights’ Horizon’s AD Tim Sanford, and Aimee Hayes, formerly of Southern Rep Theatres.

Greg Pape’s (P) new book of poems, A Field of First Things, will be published by Accents in November.

Maggie Smith (P) was recently the celebrity guest on the NPR quiz show “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me.”

Katy Yocom, Associate Director (F ’03), contributed an essay on writerly friendships—and on not writing—to “How We Spend Our Days,” a blog by novelist Cynthia Newberry Martin. She hosted the July edition and co-hosted the August edition of Voice & Vision, a reading series co-hosted by the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing, The Louisville Review, and 21c Museum Hotel.


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